Baptism and communion

Writer: 
Jari Rankinen
Translator: 
Milla Rämö

A pastor pours water on the head of a child and baptizes him in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. If this has not been done to a person as a child, it can be done to the person as an adult. Why?
 Jesus commanded to baptize. He said that through baptism a person becomes His disciple. When we are baptized, we get the great gifts Jesus Christ earned for us on the cross. Jesus has provided us the right to be children of God. Through baptism we are given forgiveness, salvation and the eternal life as a gift. The Bible says that we are clothed in Christ when we are baptized. From then on we find refuge and safety in Jesus and His work on the cross.

It’s natural to wonder how just pouring some water can do so much. God has promised to act when a person is baptized. He has promised to take a person as His child, to forgive and to save. God has chosen such a way to deliver us what Jesus has earned. There is surely a great wisdom in that God works exactly this way.

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
(Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)

Go deeper with The Small Catechism - Holy Baptism

Writer: 
Jari Rankinen
Translator: 
Milla Rämö

I was baptized sometime long ago. What does it mean now? Or does it mean anything?

At least to me the baptism is a great matter. As an infant I was baptized and I did not have to do, know, be able to succeed, or change. Not even a little bit. As I was, in my incompleteness, without knowing or having to get better - I was enough for God. I was righteous because of Jesus who died for me and reconciled my sins. It was so then and so it is now. This is what baptism reminds me of.

We can remind ourselves every morning what baptism really means: Such as I am, I belong to God and I'm going to heaven. As I am, I can resort to Jesus. Baptism brings us happiness and gratitude. That is something that brings us the strength to live as a Christian and live by God's will, even a little bit.

The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace. To be saved by grace means that we can be God’s own without having to earn it and that we get to heaven just the way we are. All of this is because of Jesus. Everyone who is baptized and believes in Jesus will be saved by grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God
(Ephesians 2:8, ESV)

Writer: 
Jari Rankinen
Translator: 
Milla Rämö

The Bible says that for you to be saved, you need baptism and faith. We must not overlook what God has said about it. Otherwise we will be in danger of being left out of His work for salvation. Therefore, we must baptize our children and receive baptism ourselves if we are not already baptized.

The Bible tells that some people have been saved without baptism. On Good Friday, Jesus said to the criminal next to him that he would be in paradise with Jesus. The man had not been baptized. God can work also outside the instruments that He tells we should use. He can save without baptism. But this divine exception does not allow us to ignore the baptism command that we have received. As Christians, we are tied to the teachings of the New Testament: in baptism one becomes a Christian and one of God’s children. When it comes to an unbaptized child who dies, we can only say that he is in the hands of our merciful God.

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Mark 16:16, ESV)

Writer: 
Jari Rankinen
Translator: 
Milla Rämö

You who are interested in the Christian faith and have not been baptized might be wondering whether you should be baptized. And yes, you should. Contact a pastor or the parish office of the Lutheran church. With the pastor, you will learn the main contents of our faith and after that you can be baptized.

Or maybe you would like to be baptized, but it is not possible. Maybe you are underaged and your parents do not allow you to be baptized.
You may believe in Jesus even though you are not baptized. Ask for a baptism as soon as it is up to you to decide.

What if you have a child who has not been baptized? Should this child be baptized?
- Yes. Contact a pastor or the parish office and arrange a baptism.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."
(Acts 2:38-39 ESV)

Writer: 
Jari Rankinen
Translator: 
Milla Rämö

The Bible teaches that baptism must not and does not need to be renewed. Once it is delivered it is always valid. This fact does not change if we reject God after our baptism. We may always return to our Father, He is waiting for us. And when we come back, we do not need a new baptism.

However, there are those who want to be baptized again or have already been baptized again. And there are those who baptize people again. Many of those might think that if a person is baptized as a child, it is not a real baptism. That is a serious claim. That would mean that you are not baptized and hence not a Christian. Some people say that if a person, at the moment of baptism, does not understand that he/she is baptized, then it can not be a real baptism. But baptism is an act of God and an act of God does not depend upon how much a person understands. We did not understand what happened when Jesus died on the cross for us - we didn’t even exist when it happened. But it was still an act of God and our salvation.

Thus, the baptism should not be renewed. A person who has taken a second baptism has done wrong. Whoever has done wrong, has the opportunity to confess the deeds to God and to ask for His forgiveness. And God forgives those who repent and believe that Jesus has reconciled all the sins of all people.

one Lord, one faith, one baptism
(Ephesians 4:5, ESV)

Writer: 
Jari Rankinen

Christians celebrate the Holy Communion (Eucharist) as Jesus commanded. Always when it is celebrated, the words Jesus said when he instituted the Holy Communion, are read. The words are taken from the scriptures of the Bible where it is told what happened in Jerusalem on the last night before Jesus died. Jesus and His disciples celebrated the Holy Communion and Jesus told them to continue to do so after that very night.

In the Holy Communion, it is said that the bread is the body of Jesus Christ and the wine is the new covenant in His blood. In the gospel according to Matthew, Jesus said also that it is His blood. Consequently, the body and the blood of Jesus is present where the Holy Communion is celebrated. Jesus is in the bread and in the wine in a very special way. We meet Him and He meets us. When you think where you should go to get near to Jesus, participate the Holy Communion. This is the great miracle of the Holy Communion: Jesus is there and works in us.

In the Holy Communion it might not often feel like you are in fact meeting Jesus. But our feelings do not prevent Jesus to come near us. He is where He has promised to be, regardless of how we feel. He has promised to be in the Holy Communion - the bread is His body and the wine is His blood.

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
(Matthew 26:26-28, ESV)

- Go deeper with The Small Catechism - Sacrament of the Altar

Writer: 
Jari Rankinen
Translator: 
Milla Rämö

In the Holy Communion we meet Jesus and that is good for us in many ways. Our Redeemer has one mission in particular: He forgives. This is what Jesus does in the Holy Communion. He shares what He gained in His death. His death reconciled all the sins of all people and brought forgiveness as much as people will ever need.

Martin Luther knew the Bible extremely well. To the question of ”what good there is in the Holy Communion” he answered: ”In this sacrament all our sins are forgiven, we get life and beatitude, for where there is the forgiveness of sins, there is also life and beatitude.”
 Every Christian who believes in what the Bible promises and comes to the Holy Communion, receives the body and blood of Jesus, and will be forgiven. The Bible promises that in the Holy Communion Jesus donates forgiveness.

This might seem way too simple and easy. But God’s mercy is simple. We often make it too difficult.

Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
(John 6:54, ESV)

Writer: 
Jari Rankinen
Translator: 
Milla Rämö

The Holy Communion is for Christians who have been baptized. In the Lutheran Church, all who have gone to the confession school and have been confirmed can go to the Holy Communion This is how it is sured that the partakers understand the meaning of the Holy Communion and know the difference between the Holy Communion and normal eating and drinking. Also children who have been taught so may partake the Holy Communion with their parents or godparents. And everyone can come to the altar to be blessed.

Sometimes it might feel difficult to go to the Holy Communion. One might feel like he /she is not good enough for it, that one should be better and stronger in faith. That is not how it should be. The Holy Communion is not for our goodness or only for those people who succeed in life. Quite the opposite - the Holy Communion is for those who need forgiveness. In the Holy Communion, the Friend and Redeemer has mercy on those who have failed. The Holy Communion is for all who need forgiveness. It is not for those who think they do not need Jesus.

The Bible warns us on that someone might eat and drink the body and the blood of Christ for that persons own condemnation. Some people to whom this warning was originally given, used to receive the Holy Communion in a way that they did not think it was the Holy Communion. They ate and drank, someone might have been drunk, and the bread and wine was eaten and drank thoughtless, on the side. Paul writes that who partakes the Holy Communion and does not think it is the body of Christ, will eat and drink to his own perdition. This warning has often been understood so that it denies the Holy Communion for those who are not good and whose faith is weak. But this is not the case.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
(1 Corinthians 11:26, ESV)